July 4, 2014 by Colin Moore
Memo to tournament fans: Never walk up to a pro minding his sponsor’s booth at a weekend Walmart FLW Tour Expo and ask him how come he’s not out fishing. Chances are he won’t hurt you, but there’s no guarantee.
Every pro entered in a Walmart FLW Tour event wants to fish all four days. It just doesn’t happen. The full field gets to fish the first two days, then the top 20 go on to the next round. Finally, it’s down to 10 on the last day. Getting to fish on Sunday is every angler’s goal, especially when a berth in the Forrest Wood Cup is at stake. Some anglers don’t make the cut because they’re not tuned in to what’s going on at that fishery. More often than not, others have to sit out Sunday because they have a streak of bad luck or circumstances work against them. Here are a few examples of that from the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Evinrude on Kentucky Lake.
Day 1: 22-06 (4th place)
Day 2: 22-10 (3rd place)
Day 3: 12-11 (18th place)
The second day, I went to my spot, and pretty soon a local comes up and starts watching me fish. He watched me all day and even talked to me some. Saturday morning, there was a local “fruit jar” tournament, and he was in it. When I showed up, there he was sitting dead-on that spot and fishing away. It was a stretch that was only about 30 yards long, and he was fishing the best of it. I had caught fish on two different baits the day before, and he was using one of them. I guess he couldn’t find a place to buy the other one. Anyway, I started fishing, and he yells at me: “Hey, man, I noticed you’re in third place. You might win this thing.” About that time, he rears back and brings in a 4-pounder. I told my partner, Theo [Corcoran], “We gotta go, because I’m fixing to get in trouble if I stay here.” Later on, I lost a 5-pounder on another spot, but it wouldn’t have helped me that much. It was a very frustrating way to end my tournament.
Day 1: 21-02 (11th place)
Day 2: 17-01 (27th place)
I really don’t have any excuses; I just couldn’t get any bigger bites the second day. I only had about 10 spots from Kenlake to Paris Landing, and none of them was really loaded with fish. One of the spots, the best of the bunch, ended up being somebody else’s school too. I didn’t lose any fish, and I felt like I made the right decisions. The way I look at it, I was one bite away from another 4-pounder, and that would have made all the difference.
Day 1: 14-10 (92nd place)
Day 2: 23-00 (30th place)
My story is pretty sad. In practice, I spent a lot of time between Paris Landing and New Johnsonville looking for schools. I found one place where bass were pushing gizzard shad up on a shallow flat. That was my game plan: to find offshore fish that were feeding on shad in places where the water came up shallow. You couldn’t graph them. I found them because I saw bass busting shad. But it was one of those deals where if you ran over them with your electronics on, the bass would scoot out to deeper water, and you’d never find them again.
Anyway, a few others were fishing the same area. I’m new to this game, and I haven’t gotten used to fishing in a crowd, so I rushed things. On the first day, I got to a place where I had caught them in practice, hurried up to get my share and lined up on my cast. My boat position was spot-on, and I would line up so I was casting toward a red channel-marker buoy up the river. It was dark and dreary, and later on I realized that the buoy I lined up on was the wrong buoy. There was one buoy about a quarter-mile away, and another one way up above it. That was the one I was supposed to line up on, so my casts were off by about 40 or 50 yards. Still, I caught a few. The next day, I got my casting angle on the right buoy, and it was a fish every cast for me. I busted 23 pounds and wondered what would have happened if I had gotten lined up right in the first place. I’ll have a long time to wonder.
Day 1: 18-14 (32nd place)
Day 2: 21-01 (18th place)
Day 3: 11-13 (20th place)
Day three was what I would consider to be a bad day. It was a combination of things. A lot of people saw me fishing, and it got crowded. I was originally banking on a couple of places that weren’t too obvious, but a couple of guys busted me on them, too. Finally, I lost a couple of really good fish. One actually broke my line – I haven’t had my line broken in a couple of years, it seems like. The fault was with me. It was raining the evening before, and when I got back in I just didn’t want to go to the trouble of retying. I told myself not to worry about it, but I should have, and it cost me.
I was blessed coming in to the tournament in that I didn’t have to worry about qualifying for the [Forrest Wood] Cup. So I took some chances, even though I knew I could catch 16 or 17 pounds a day on drop-shots and that sort of thing. I went after big bites, and I was alternating the new Strike King 8XD crankbait, a Strike King Sexy Spoon and one of those huge Ben Parker spoons like some of the others were using. I tried to hit all the places where I knew some big things could happen. I’ve had tournaments where that plan worked, but this time it didn’t.